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  • Evan Laslo

Bone-afide, Spooky-Spirited Podcasts for the Season, by Ilsa Miller

Thrillers, dark mysteries, and ghost stories are becoming increasingly common in media, even just as a supporting element in another genre. Horror films have been around for quite some time and many people have at least seen one of the classics. But what about the podcasts utilizing the eerie, horrific nature of many common ghost stories?

The “Cryptid Podcast Trinity” consists of three popular podcasts: Welcome to Night Vale, The Magnus Archives, and King Falls AM. Each with their own agenda, they entwine the atmosphere of a torchlight ghost story with everyday life events. If you’re someone who likes spooky stories, but still has hopes of falling asleep without a light on, check out these three spooky season staples!

As a fan of Welcome to Night Vale since 2014, I’ve often wondered what exactly it is about this genre of podcasts that’s alluring to people. Since coming to Miami, I think I may have an answer.

Around the second week of classes, the Miami University Historical Association started a discussion about the disappearance of Ronald Tammen. Even now, I continue to hear students ruminating aloud about the haunted locations on campus and about how they’re planning to, or already have, gone to visit. The drive behind this is likely the unanswered questions surrounding these stories; a thrill of never quite knowing what had happened then, or even if it’s true. This sense of foreboding excitement is what I believe pushes people towards things of the thrilling nature.

More people are finding entertainment in the dark unknown. This growing fascination, festering in a widening fanbase, is likely the reason for these podcasts’ success. Remixing the various tools key to the horror genre keeps things interesting whilst allowing each podcast to establish its own voice.

Night Vale embodies this genre by building a world that lives by rules unique to their town. Although not necessarily scary, there is a never ending mystery that unfolds as the seasons continue to release. Mostly, the mystery relies on the listener remaining ignorant to various normalicies to the town. But, as the episodes continue, enough anecdotal knowledge is compiled to make sense of omitted knowledge. The appearance of a plane in the school gymnasium from episode one unexpectedly comes back around in episode 163. Next door to Night Vale, Desert Bluffs’ citizens never seem to stop smiling, and yet there seems to be nothing to smile about. Intermittent episodes concerning the neighbouring town persist, as do the increasingly concerning oddities about it’s population.

King Falls AM is jaded to the spooky occurrences going on in the show, most of the characters having grown used to the serialized hauntings. However, with one of the show hosts being new to the area, the occasional mystery remains to the audience through this character’s ignorance. But once into the midst of the podcast, more spectral appearances foreign to even the town begin to take shape. This brings the radio hosts out of their booth and involves them more actively with the unraveling of the new haunting.

The Magnus Archives, the most blood-chilling of the three, opens with the resonance of a viola’s wistful solo. The show deals with paranormal mysteries that are often debunked as hoaxes, with a gradually developing threat in the shadows. It is the narrator’s own scepticism in the supernatural events being catalogued that catalyzes the show’s developing dark unknown. That, and how nobody talks about the institute’s old head archivist.

Spooktacular podcasts such as these leave no question towards their growing fame. From remixes of classic thriller tropes to modern takes on old ghost haunts, the horror podcast genre has a lot of space to roam. Maybe take a listen as both the leaves and weather start to turn. I’m sure the cold foggy mornings alone are to blame for the chill down your spine...

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